Mental health and silver linings

Last week I wrote about my recent brush with anxiety and how at times like this I find that creativity can form a kind of refuge for me. During that time I made a picture of a cat that I rather liked. It’s inspired by my two cats. Both of them are black and a little eccentric, but one of them has displayed some almost saint like qualities in his tolerance of the overly enthusiastic affections of my toddler son.

Over the weekend I had a go at doing some finishing touches in photoshop, and was relatively pleased with the result. So even though I wasn’t feeling near my best in that time, I have come out with a little silver lining in the form of a piece of art.

This is the finished piece above. If you like it, and fancy treating yourself to something with this image on, it’s now available in my shop at Redbubble here.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you like these prompts and want to get a copy of a free short book of them I wrote, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

Looking for something unusual on Valentines day?

summer 2

A few years ago, back when I began this blog, I created a small art collection that I called the Forest Kiss Collection. I was rather pleased with it, and uploaded it to Redbubble. As valentines day approaches I wanted to flag this collection to recent followers of the blog, of which there have been many since these pieces were first published.

Looking for something unusual this valentines day? I would be thrilled it you would take a moment to have a look at the art on a range of lovely things here, at Redbubble.

I also make art. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

 

Christmas card designs

redbubble christmas card

It’s been a strange old year this year, and in the UK we’ve just moved into another lockdown of sorts. At times it feels like this situation will never end, and that we’ll never quite get back to normal. I’m finding it a bit difficult to think about what Christmas will look like this year and haven’t got much planned at all.

I’m not normally very good at sending cards at Christmas, as I prefer to try to see people, but I don’t think that will be happening this year. One of the things that I am going to try to do this year is actually send those Christmas cards to people I may not be able to meet in person.

A few years ago I made a couple of funny Christmas card designs and uploaded them to my shop on Redbubble. They are available on cards and other products and I’m still quite pleased with them and feel like they hold up ok.

If you are that way inclined, I would be thrilled if you would take a quick look at the Christmas designs I have here, at Redbubble.

Thank you for reading. I also make art and films. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

New product on Redbubble: cloth face masks

work-27373674-mask Followers of this blog (hello!) will probably know that I have had a little shop on Redbubble for some time now. They emailed me in the last few weeks to say that they had added a new product on Redbubble – cloth face masks. These are masks designed for use in public, and would not be appropriate in a medical setting.

I feel a bit weird about the idea of making money from a crisis like CORVID-19. However, Redbubble have pledged that for every face mask bought they will donate one to the charity Heart to Heart international, which is an NGO that is working with partners internationally to distribute equipment needed in the fight against CORVID-19. I thought I would upload a few of my designs onto these face masks to support that.

Most of the designs I have are not particularly appropriate for face masks, and with a new baby I’m not in a good position to make anything new right now. However a few years ago I made a few pieces of paper cut art that were completely comprised of paper cut flowers. I was pleased with these and these were among my first designs on Redbubble. They aren’t particularly popular (although I don’t sell a huge amount of my art so it’s actually difficult to tell), but I have now added face masks to the available products here. If you were thinking of buying a mask you may want to take a look at these, and if you don’t like my designs there are many, many other wonderful designs on Redbubble to choose from.

I also make art. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

Design for Mothers Day – UK mums

Mother Love

A while ago I posted this post in which I showed you a design I had created as a valentines day card for Mr Magpie when I was heavily pregnant. A few people here, and else where said that they liked it so I had a go at putting it onto things at Redbubble in time for mothers day.

Now I have it ready, just in time for Mothers Day in the UK. So here it is, available on a range of things at Redbubble. 

I also make art. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

 

New work: Time to get wobbly.

I’ve just added a new work to Redbubble. I was trying for something irreverent and funny. Possibly suitable for festive times. At the same time I tried to keep it simple.

time to get wobbly society 6 2

What do you think? I had made the paper-cut champaign bottle and glasses some time ago for an animation I did that really didn’t work that well. It’s nice to see them have a bit of a new life in this design. It’s a tangible reminder that things can go wrong, or not work out, but in creative work none of those efforts are really a waste. Some part of that experience, sometimes even the bits of work them selves that didn’t quite work the first time, can be useful in some other project later down the line.

Things with this thing on available here.

Friday Finisher

moonlight magpies

I finished off this design this week. Magpies made of moonlight flowers. I finished this one off by using the silhouette of the magpies I finished off earlier in the year as the as an outline to cut the moonlight flowers I completed a couple of weeks ago. All completed in photoshop.

So far I have it on a white background. What do you think? Would something darker be better?

Things with magpies on here at Redbubble.

 

Building an audience: Redbubble, Threadless and Society6

When I first started this website I was thinking about different ways to try to make money out of my art. In the last few months I’ve been trying out a few different websites that enable you to do this, and now have profiles on Redbubble, Society6 and Threadless. All three websites work on the model that you upload high quality digital photos to the website which can then be printed via good quality digital printing on a range of products, which include wall art, T-shirts, bags, clocks, mugs and stationary. All three sites give clear guidance on the file types and sizes you will need for the different types of product.

I have been thinking about writing this post for a while while I get the hang of using these sites. They all have positive features and drawbacks, which I will probably need to make a few posts on while I continue to get the hang of them. Here are a few early thoughts:

Control over how your design looks products: For me Redbubble have the clear advantage here. Their interface means that you can change the size, and position of your art on the respective product. At the moment Redbubble is also the only site in which you can have your image appear as a repeated pattern on the the product without effectively creating a new design. It is also relatively easy to change the background colour of a number of products, which isn’t that easy on the other two platforms. The other two platforms are much more reliant on the work you do to prepare your files in the first place in ensuring that your image looks good on the products.

Building an Audience: All three platforms operate a kind of internal social media system where you create a profile which is visible to other people who buy or sell art through the sites. In all three platforms you can follow other artists and hope that other people will follow you. The advice appears to be that most sales will be made to other platform users, so collecting likes, followers and comments is a good way of monitoring if your work is being seen, and of eventually generating sales. I have found that so far it has been much easier to build a follower base in Threadless, and Society6.

Threadless runs a regular design competition which enables you to submit a design and invite other Threadless users to vote on your design, which is great fun. Designs with the most votes are likely to be featured on the main website. There appears to be a core group of people who participate in voting in these competitions on a regular basis, so it is a good way of getting your stuff seen. I have a design up at the moment, you can have a look here.

Society6 has an App (unfortunately only on iphones/ iPad at the moment) which functions a bit like instagram, which means that it is relatively easy to scroll through other people’s art and find artists that you like. Commenting and liking other people’s art is a way of drawing attention to your own work, and I have been relatively successful here in a short period of time.

I have found Redbubble less easy to negotiate when trying to build up an audience. While you can participate in challenges, forums, comment on people’s work and follow people in Redbubble I have not been particularly successful in getting my stuff seen there. I don’t find the website particularly easy to use in comparison to the other two platforms for this purpose. I am not quite sure why I am finding it difficult, and this may possibly be a ‘getting the hang of it’ issue. They have a new App which again operates in a similar way to instagram, and which looks good. Unfortunately at the moment you can’t log into it with your profile so it’s not helpful in drawing attention to your own work through interacting with other people (I have been told they are working on a log in feature – personally I think this will really help). That said, I have made sales to people other than my boyfriend, or my boyfriend’s mum, through Redbubble, so it’s not clear to me that gaining lots of followers actually translates into money in the bank.

Getting paid: Both Threadless and Society6 pay through Paypal, and there doesn’t appear to be an option over the currency you are paid in here for either site. As both sites are American, I will be paid in US dollars, while living and designing things in the UK. Redbubble again is the winner here – you can choose to be paid directly into your bank account and you can also choose which currency you want to be paid in, which definitely works better for me.

Tax: For all sites you are responsible for paying income tax in your own country on your earnings. You may also be responsible for paying sales tax in the countries in which your art is sold if you make enough sales to take you over the relevant country’s tax threshold, although they appear to collect VAT so it’s not entirely clear. I am not sure what this mean at the moment, I have some more research to do here.

Those are my thoughts this morning – I am sure that there will be more to follow. I would love to hear about other people’s experiences about using these platforms.

 

Work in progress – from start to finish

This is a post I have been thinking about for a while, but I haven’t quite had the time to pull everything together. It’s a kind of start to finish look at a single piece of work. So here goes….

First there is a sketch, which in the case looked like this:


The majority of my art work then basically involves me sitting for some time with sketches and and a pair of scissors. I normally end up with a kind of white silhouette in reverse of the original sketch. I really like these, I think they are really elegant in their own right and am thinking about doing some work based on these alone. Let’s see.


After this stage I use these white bits of paper as stencils for working with different kinds of coloured paper to build the final image. This results in a series of movable pieces coloured paper that I can start to place together in different ways to form the final image. With the magpies in this case I used pritt-stick just to lightly glue them together as the whole magpies were much easier to move about than the individual bits. Here is the skeleton of the magpie image.


Then I will probably add some paper flowers, which are becoming a bit of a signature feature. I have stockpiles of these. I have cut so many of these now that I can cut them free hand, without really paying too much attention, in front of the telly.

I like to back most of my images up on different kinds of cloth. This image below is backed with a white Kashmir silk scarf that I bought while on holiday with my sister in Dubia. Most of my work involves physical materials, things that I can feel and manipulate directly with my fingers. I am becoming increasingly aware of how excited I can get about different textures in my work – in this image I particularly like the contracts of the smoothness of the paper against the very delicate pattern woven into the silk. Now I take a digital photo.

Two for Joy Raw

Finally, just at the end I will jump into photoshop and do a few tweaks. For this one I very slightly brightened the photo and increased the contrast. I then added on a sepia filter to warm it up slightly, and I finally added in some text. The final image looks like this.

Two for Joy - final

Available on a range of things here at Redbubble.

 

Buying my own swag – experiences with Threadless and Redbubble

Tote bag from Threadless


Over the last few weeks I have ordered some of my own swag from Threadless an from Redbubble to have a look at the quality of the products and to see what the experience of being a customer to either platform is. As far as the quality of the products goes, I was happy with the things I received from both organisations. The tote bag in the picture at the top of this post was from Threadless, it feels really solid and strong, the colours of the digital printing are really good.

 

Tote bag from Redbubble


The blue tote bag above is from Redbubble. I would say the quality is similar, the digital printing again is really nice and the cloth is a little softer which I prefer I think. 

I think the main difference has come in the form of my experience of getting the products shipped to me in the UK. Redbubble appear (from one experience so definitely not a systematic exploration) to have world wide shipping sorted out. I ordered things last week and they are all already in my sweaty excited hands.

Threadless unfortunately do not seem to have this cracked. I think I made a mistake in the early stages of ordering – you can opt to pre-pay surcharges and I didn’t do this as I didn’t quite realise I needed to do this (if you live outside of the US do this). Two of my items are now floating around the uk postal system somewhere. I contacted Threadless’ customer service team for help with my undelivered items and let’s just say I had a very frustrating interaction with someone who didn’t seem to understand my problem, or didn’t care that the did give me a second tracking number, which I had not seen before, so I could work out the problem for myself. I am not trying to work with the courier, having had to find contact details for them via google, to find out what I need to do next – I think I need to pay a customs charge, but not really sure as neither Threadless nor the courier have actually contacted me directly to tell me what to do next. So basically I’m having to do far more detective work than I have time for to get my hands on my own products. I am hoping this is a one off shipping problem, and not their general approach to customer services as it is pretty disappointing so far.

Another thing – I submitted a design to a Threadless competition this week- it’s the first time I’ve ever done something like this – if you had a spare moment I would really appreciate your votes, which you can submit here.